Operation “Black Phoenix” resulted in seven indictments that were issued earlier this year by a federal grand jury. The indictments charge a total of 25 defendants, 18 of whom were arrested this morning, and four of whom were already in custody.
Justin Pham, 30, of Las Vegas, was charged with one count of illegal possession of a machine gun and two counts of possession of a firearm not registered in the National Firearms Registration and Transfer Record.
Cristal Avila, 27, from Fort Worth, Texas, and Joseph Mora, 35, from Schertz, Texas, entered their guilty plea Aug. 7, in front of U.S. District Judge Mark Lane. Both pleaded guilty to one count of theft of government property.
According to court documents and evidence presented at the sentencing hearing, between 2011 and 2018, Vladimir Volgaev, 69, of Sarasota, shipped more than 1,600 firearm components – including barrels, slides, receivers, and frames – from the United States to Ukraine. These components were used to construct fully functional firearms, including handguns and rifles.
As alleged in the superseding indictment, from at least in or about the late 1990s, up to and including the date of the superseding indictment, Michael J. Miske, Jr., aka “Bro,” John B. Stancil, Kaulana Freitas, aka “Shorty,” Lance L. Bermudez, aka “Hammah,” Dea Han Moon, aka “Dayday,” Preston M. Kimoto, Harry K. Kauhi, aka “Harry Boy,” Norman L. Akau III, Hunter J. Wilson, and Jarrin K. Young, the defendants, and others known and unknown, conspired to conduct and participate in the conduct of the affairs of a racketeering enterprise, the “Miske Enterprise,” through a pattern of racketeering activity.
HSI Detroit seized the internet domain “http://lafoauto.com/” pursuant to an international arms-trafficking investigation. HSI determined that more than 350 suppressors seized by law enforcement across the county were purchased from the website and smuggled into the United States from China as automotive parts.